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Institute for the Research of Genocide Canada

Statements Confirming Crimes Committed by Lt. Gen. Lewis MacKenzie

Institute for the Research of Genocide Canada
Published: December 26, 2010  

SHOCKING ACCOUNTS BY RAPED BOSNIAK WOMEN AND CRIMINAL UNDERTAKINGS OF Lt. Gen. (ret.) LEWIS MACKENZIE

Former Canadian General Lewis MacKenzie (UN)

Former Canadian General Lewis MacKenzie (UN)

Dear friends of truth and justice,

It is in the name of truth and justice, the brightest stars lighting the path of humanity and civilization, Canadian – Bosniak Community wishes to inform the public at large, about certain statements made by Bosniak women and men, which statements, beyond a shadow of a doubt, corroborate that Lt. Gen. (ret.), Lewis Mackenzie, stayed at the rape-camp “Kod Sonje” (At Sonia’s) and was party to committing crimes against women. It is not the prerogative of the Congress of North American Bosniaks to judge. It is the job of the judiciary and the system of justice of Bosnia and Herzegovina to do so. The Canadian – Bosniak Community wishes, by way of publishing these statements, to inform the world community in general, and the Canadian public in particular, about the moral and ethical traits of a person who was sworn, trusted and charged with leading the peacekeeping forces of the United Nations, while the aggression and genocide against Bosnia and Herzegovina was being committed. By publishing these witness accounts, the Canadian – Bosniak Community is sending a message to all those who aspire to committing war crimes – your crime will not be allowed to be hidden and to go unpunished. And it is also sending a message to all the victims of war crimes – truth and justice must, and will, be victorious as they are “conditio sine qua non”. Truth and justice are the fundamental reasons for the very existence of humanity and civilization.

1.A witness account corroborating regular visitations of Lt. Gen. (ret.) Mackenzie, to the rape-camp “Kod Sonje”

This is an extract from a witness statement given by a Bosniak male, at the time held at the Semizovac barracks, and subsequently at the rape-camp “Kod Sonje”. This witness was also sexually abused.

“I am regularly, every day, being taken (out of the cell), beaten, interrogated. On one evening, at about 11:00 PM, three Chetniks (Serbian ultranationalist paramilitary formations) whom I have not known, took me out. They took me to the railroad, tied my hands behind my back and ordered me to lay down with my neck on the rail. I did so. They first wanted to slit my throat. They held me there for some 15-20 minutes saying things like: “We won’t do it tonight. We’ll slit your throat tomorrow”. Then they took me back to “Kod Sonje”. The next day they started bringing in men. Every day they would bring in men of all ages.

I remember that I saw these (captives) at the camp “Kod Sonje”:

1. Ahmet Hido, now living in Svrake
2. Alija Halilovic, now living in Svrake
3. Esad Muracevic, now living in Svrake
4. Suljo Duric, now living in Svrake
5. Hamid Simsic, deceased
6. Ismet Besirevic, killed
7. Ekrem Piknjaca, now living in Svrake
8. Taib Kodzaga, now living in Semizovac
9. Serif Balesic, now living in Vogosca
10. Hata Balesic, Serif’s wife, now living in Vogosca
11. Armin (Serfe) Balesic, and many others whose names I cannot recall now.

I also saw women being brought to the rape-camp “Kod Sonje”. I recognized the following:

1. Sahida Senderovic, from Vogosca
2. Soka Jozic, from Vogosca

I saw Soka on the day when General Mackenzie came to the rape-camp “Kod Sonje”. I was then taken (from the cell) by the Chetniks who forced me to prepare barbecued lamb for Mackenzie. I don’t know where Soka is today, but I knew her well as she worked in the same firm as I did, in UNIS, Hospitality Division “Biokovo”. In June of 1992, I was, again, ordered by the guards at the rape-camp “Kod Sonje” to prepare a lamb on the spit. As I was cooking the lamb, I was being watched over by a certain Ignjatije Dragovic, himself of Vogosca. He asked me:”Do you know who you are barbecuing this lamb for?”. I said:”I don’t know”. He said:”You are barbecuing this lamb for General Mackenzie”. When the lamb was done, a certain Ahmed Hido (a camp captive, now living in Svrake), helped me bring the lamb inside, into the restaurant of the rape-camp “Kod Sonje”. At that time I saw (military) transporters with the letters UN on it. One was a wheeled transporter and the other was a track transporter. I was brought into the kitchen to carve the meat. Then Soka Jozic entered. I could hear music. Soka went from the restaurant and came into the kitchen. She wore an apron. She was about 35 years of age, with short blonde hair and of medium build and height. She started bringing the roasted lamb and drinks into the dining room. I was then taken back into the rape-camp. As I was exiting the restaurant, under escort by the guards, I saw that the transporters were still parked outside.

2. A witness account attesting to the visit, by Lt. Gen. (ret.) Lewis Mackenzie, to the rape-camp “Kod Sonje”, and corroborating the act of crime against humanity – crime against a Woman – the crime of rape:

Two Chetniks from my town, Boro Radic and Zarko Milic, tossed me and my children into an armored vehicle bearing the insignia of “International Red Cross” and took us to the rape-camp “Kod Sonje”. We were taken to the interrogation area. There, they interrogate me, demand the keys to the car and the apartment. I told them:” You have it all, I don’t have it”. They kept me, my two daughters Azema and Zinaida, and son Edis, in that room the whole night. That night I could hear commotions, crying and cries for help. The next morning a neighbour of mine, Dujo Jovanovic, who drove a car with the insignia of Red Cross, came and took me and the children away. I did not see who the people that were crying and begging for help were. Dujo Jovanovic said:” I saw the list and on the list it says that your daughters have to be taken to Zuc“. He then took me to the creek and Vaso’s meat monger store and told me to walk down the creek to the village of Ugljesici. He also said:” Don’t’ cross the bridge, it has been mined in the village, there is nobody there, they (Chetniks) killed everybody they could and chased out the rest, take that meadow and you will get to Ugorski, to your people”. And I got (back) to my Bosniaks. There we were welcomed and taken to the Faculty of Transportation, where they gave us food and beverages and then they took us to a certain Hamdo where I and my children slept in the basement. I wish to emphasize the following: When, in the end, I was set free to leave the rape-camp “Kod Sonje”, I went to a friend of mine, a certain Maso Ramovic, of Mosa Pijade Street, Sarajevo, across the street from the Stomatological Faculty of the Sarajevo University. There I asked amateur ham-radio operators for help to locate my husband. A certain Amir Klapuh responded and said:” Ema, sister, do not look for Medo. I was told by Goran Rgoje that Dragan Damjanovic slit his throat last night and that he, Goran, tried to protect him but was not able to”. I was told by the people who were set free after I left the rape-camp “Kod Sonje”, that there were women and girls raped, men beaten and murdered. That girls, in particular, were being rounded up for General MacKenzie and that a certain Aida, from Vogosca, committed suicide by jumping out of the window. I was told these, and other, things as people would be set free.

3. A witness account by a Bosniak woman attesting to statements corroborating the rape of women at the rape-camp “Kod Sonje”:

In the period of time when I exited to obtain an exit permit to leave Vogosca, for me and my children, I was told that General MacKenzie would frequently visit Vogosca, and I also saw transporters (white, with UN insignia). I also was told that a Bosniak was murdered in Vogosca, his name was Izan. He was murdered because he helped Bosniaks. One evening they (Chetniks) threw a bomb into his apartment and the following night he was taken and I was told that he was murdered on the railroad. I gave a statement to CSB as quoted here. When I came (back) to Sarajevo, I was told that women and girls were raped at the rape-camp “Kod Sonje” and that General MacKenzie was there. I also heard the same statements from those who were driven out of Vogosca.

4. A witness statement by a mother and a daughter who were jointly raped while imprisoned in a home in Vogosca, and then in the rape-camp “Kod Sonje”:

I was told that General MacKenzie was there. I was told that he raped girls and women. There was also a certain Goga, who married a Muslim, and who lived in Vogosca, who prepared food for MacKenzie. She knows everything, she knows who those women and girls are, who were raped. She now works at the market in Vogosca.

5. A statement by a Bosniak woman – a witness protected by The Haag Tribunal – a victim of multiple rapes in the camp at Lukavica, in the “Slavise. V. Cice” barracks:

One afternoon, as I was cleaning up the garbage around the barracks, Mackenzie arrived in a transporter. They rolled out a red carpet, all the way to Mackenzie’s transporter. He saw me bruised and bloodied, opened the door of the transporter and showed me in. He said :”We must not give (them) Marija”. He put his hand on his chest and said “I am now responsible”. I saw that he was inebriated, I put my two palms together and pointed to the two men who were with me. They were a certain Damir, who died, and also a student from Hadzici whose name I do not recall. MacKenzie said:” Let them into the transporter too”. He had a translator with him.The transporter brought us to PTT (Post, Telegraph, Telephone) “Inzenjering”, where Mackenzie called on the police to take us to our homes. I could not go back to Grbavica as it was occupied, so they took me to my sister’s at Kosevo, and they took the two men to wherever they lived. On June 2, 1992, I arrived in the liberated territories under the control of the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

An excerpt from the book “I begged them to kill me – a crime against the Woman of Bosnia and Herzegovina”, published by the Centre for Research and Documentation of the Association of Imprisonment Camp Survivors of Bosnia and Herzegovina

A statement which confirms the crime against humanity – the crime against a Woman – the crime of rape committed by Lt. Gen. (ret.) Lewis Mackenzie:

… I woke up around six in the morning, confused, not knowing what was happening, not knowing where my infant child was, if he was given any care, if I would ever see him again. Around one o’clock a military policeman brought me food. I spent the whole day in that room, alone. Around eight o’clock in the evening a certain Maj. Vlado, of Vogosca, came in and ordered me to get ready and to go with him. He brought me a bag containing clean, but already worn, women’s underwear. When I readied myself he took me to his Jeep in which he and two other soldiers took me to a larger cottage. He told me that if I wanted to be reunited with my baby again I ought to be very smart as I would be visited, in that cottage, by a gentleman, a foreigner, who could be of great help to me if I were to be nice to him.

He then locked me inside that cottage which consisted of a rather large room, a bathroom in the basement and three smaller bedrooms in the attic. There was a TV set and a radio there as well.

I was scared for myself and even more frightened about my baby. Shortly thereafter, an older officer entered, accompanied by two in his escort. I recognized General Lewis Mackenzie, who approached me with his hand straight out, and addressed me “miss” (in English). In his right hand he held a red rosebud and he clumsily pressed it into my hands – I was terrified. As he was doing that, the two escort left the room and locked the door. General Mackenzie asked me what my name was, where I came from…

I was silent and I pretended I could not understand anything he was saying. I just pulled my shoulders together and retreated, as General Mackenzie was saying, in English:” Miss, you can speak English very well and you understand everything. I am here to help you. That is in your interest. And love, led by interest, is the strongest love”. I knew what situation I was in. Imprisoned and separated from my nine-months old baby. Both, my baby and I, were helpless and imprisoned. Any resistance would have been irrational. Had I have been alone, without a child depending on me, I would have resisted. This way, I only thought of my infant son and for him I was prepared to be subjected to any kind of torture, humiliation, physical and mental pain and suffering. I only wanted to be reunited with him, even in a prison camp, and with all insecurities the imprisonment brings.With a trashy Serbian music emanating from that radio in the background, the General admitted to his passion, while I defended my imprisoned infant boy. With my jaws clenched, with my heart shut…

It lasted, with shorter intervals, some twenty minutes. The General visited me seven or eight more times. I asked him to intervene with the Chetniks to give me my baby back and to let us go. He would always say:” Tomorrow, tomorrow, be patient”. After some twenty days I was taken, by two soldiers, from that cottage and they took me to Vogosca and to Maj. Vlado. Mackenzie did not use his fists to force me to have sex with him. He did not throw me down on my back. I laid down myself. He did not beat me or force me – but he had me as a helpless imprisoned woman that I was. As he played to be a gentleman bearing roses, the blinds in that room were down and the house was surrounded by the Chetnik guards. I am making this statement without any coercion and in order to breathe out, as it were, and in order to find solace in my desire to meet General Lewis Mackenzie again, and to ask him, on public television, a few questions and to look into his eyes, the eyes of a great friend of Serbian-Chetnik war criminals”.

A personal comment:

What can be said about a person who insisted on providing armoured catering services to a people, civilians, whom he would not protect from heavily armed aggression – not even in order for them to be able to consume that “last supper” which he so valiantly and heroically provided. Or did he? What can be said about a coward, who spent the first six months of his tour of duty cowering in a Sarajevo bunker, only to emerge as the Canadian national hero! The groundhog day circus! What can be said about a career soldier, whose reporting line eventually ends in the hands of an elected civilian, who decides that it is his God-given right to stare down, berate and humiliate, publicly, an elected president of an independent country – and at the time when that president was defending all of the people in that country? Former Chief of Staff of Canada’s Department of Defence, General John de Chastelain, eloquently spoke about the most honorable duty of a uniformed soldier being to succumb to the will and the authority of the civilians elected into their positions of government by the people. That concept Lt. Gen. Mackenzie (ret.) does not seem to be able to grasp. There seems to be a character flaw – in his case, as evident from the brutally moving account of his “passion”, he is bent on making others, especially defenceless and helpless women, succumb to him. What can be said other than that it is cowardice. The same cowardice he displayed when he befriended Radovan Karadzic, the world-leading terrorist, as he ate, drank and danced at Karadzic’s daughter’s wedding, while the maniacal genocidal men under Karadzic’s command were committing murder in first degree, a murder on a scale of massive proportions, of civilians in Sarajevo. The cowardice that he displayed, together with the then Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and the then Minister of External Affairs Barbara McDougall, when they jointly and cowardly cancelled a live televised debate scheduled by the CBC in May of 1992. The three of them were scheduled to debate me – a person nominated for that debate by the Bosnia and Herzegovina Information Office. A civilian. A member of the Canadian electorate. A Canadian citizen by choice and determination. A Bosnian by birth and heart. The general, as well as his civilian bosses, did not have the guts to stare me across a debating table, in a public forum. They knew then that they had no weapons good enough to counter truth and justice. In those days, the CBC ran a government advertisement inviting people to vote, saying :…votes are stronger than the bullets…”. In one of my public speeches I dismissed that mythology saying:” The electoral majority of Bosnia and Herzegovina voted and they are now being murdered for the way they voted. And they won the vote!”. That advertisement was pulled from the air and never seen again. What a cowardice!

The truth, General Mackenzie, is that you are a coward, just as those are who are still trying to protect you from due process and justice. Just as those were who dispatched youto Bosnia and Herzegovina and then did nothing to prevent and punish the crime of genocide. My name is Zeljko Milicevic. I live in Ottawa. And I am not a cowar.

An excerpt from the book “I begged them to kill me – a crime against the Woman of Bosnia and Herzegovina”, published by the Centre for Research and Documentation of the Association of Imprisonment Camp Survivors of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

A statement which confirms the crime against humanity – the crime against a Woman – the crime of rape committed by Lt. Gen. (ret.) Lewis MacKenzie:
… I woke up around six in the morning, confused, not knowing what was happening, not knowing where my infant child was, if he was given any care, if I would ever see him again. Around one o’clock a military policeman brought me food. I spent the whole day in that room, alone. Around eight o’clock in the evening a certain Maj. Vlado, of Vogosca, came in and ordered me to get ready and to go with him. He brought me a bag containing clean, but already worn, women’s underwear. When I readied myself he took me to his Jeep in which he and two other soldiers took me to a larger cottage. He told me that if I wanted to be reunited with my baby again I ought to be very smart as I would be visited, in that cottage, by a gentleman, a foreigner, who could be of great help to me if I were to be nice to him.

He then locked me inside that cottage which consisted of a rather large room, a bathroom in the basement and three smaller bedrooms in the attic. There was a TV set and a radio there as well.

I was scared for myself and even more frightened about my baby.

Shortly thereafter, an older officer entered, accompanied by two in his escort. I recognized General Lewis MacKenzie, who approached me with his hand straight out, and addressed me “miss” (in English). In his right hand he held a red rosebud and he clumsily pressed it into my hands – I was terrified. As he was doing that, the two escort left the room and locked the door. General MacKenzie asked me what my name was, where I came from… I was silent and I pretended I could not understand anything he was saying. I just pulled my shoulders together and retreated, as General MacKenzie was saying, in English:” Miss, you can speak English very well and you understand everything. I am here to help you. That is in your interest. And love, led by interest, is the strongest love”. I knew what situation I was in. Imprisoned and separated from my nine-months old baby. Both, my baby and I, were helpless and imprisoned.

Any resistance would have been irrational. Had I have been alone, without a child depending on me, I would have resisted. This way, I only thought of my infant son and for him I was prepared to be subjected to any kind of torture, humiliation, physical and mental pain and suffering. I only wanted to be reunited with him, even in a prison camp, and with all insecurities the imprisonment brings.

With a trashy Serbian music emanating from that radio in the background, the General admitted to his passion, while I defended my imprisoned infant boy. With my jaws clenched, with my heart shut…

It lasted, with shorter intervals, some twenty minutes.

The General visited me seven or eight more times. I asked him to intervene with the Chetniks to give me my baby back and to let us go. He would always say:” Tomorrow, tomorrow, be patient”.

After some twenty days I was taken, by two soldiers, from that cottage and they took me to Vogosca and to Maj. Vlado.

MacKenzie did not use his fists to force me to have sex with him. He did not throw me down on my back. I laid down myself. He did not beat me or force me – but he had me as a helpless imprisoned woman that I was. As he played to be a gentleman bearing roses, the blinds in that room were down and the house was surrounded by the Chetnik guards.

I am making this statement without any coercion and in order to breathe out, as it were, and in order to find solace in my desire to meet General Lewis MacKenzie again, and to ask him, on public television, a few questions and to look into his eyes, the eyes of a great friend of Serbian-Chetnik war criminals”.

An interview with Carol Off by Matthew Sibiga

Carol Off has always approached her work with a large measure of passion, whether it be her reporting on the Gulf War or her award-winning television and radio coverage of the war in Bosnia, the plight of women refugees or the fate of war criminals living in Canada. This characteristic passion and incredible energy have now been focused into what may well be the most volatile and controversial book of the year. Carol Off has written a damning indictment of theUnited Nations’ failed peacekeeping missions in Rwanda and Bosnia and compelling portraits of the three Canadians — Romeo Dallaire, Lewis MacKenzie and Louise Arbour — at the centre of the storm. Her perspective, which is argued forcefully and without ambiguity, is often contrary to conventional views held on this subject — a particular case in point being the section that deals with the U.N.’s handling of the war in the former Yugoslavia. At its core, the book is a meditation on the nature of morality and justice.

I met with Carol Off in the Random House offices in Toronto to discuss The Lion, the Fox and the Eagle.

Your choice of animals to describe the main actors in your story is interesting. How did you come up with the names?

They came to me instantly. I wanted something to symbolize them in a very simple way. Romeo Dallaire was the lion because of his isolation in Rwanda from the rest of the world. I immediately thought of General MacKenzie as the fox because of how cunning and clever he has been. He can dance circles around people and many could never really be sure where he was coming from. The first thought I had about Louise Arbour was that she was an eagle. She has an eagle eye and was focused on exactly what she wanted to accomplish. She circled her prey when she was in the Hague and lined everything so that she could get the indictment for Slobodan Milosevic. I don’t know if Dallaire or MacKenzie are good soldiers. I’m not a military historian and I can’t analyze either man in that light. But I do feel that Dallaire is a moral man. I admire him because he believed he was fighting tyranny. Morality was this prism I looked through in my analysis of all three characters in my book. I tried not be judgmental but I knew the book had to be told from the point of view of the people whose lives had been so seriously affected by their actions and not from the point of view of the Canadian government, military or judiciary. It had to be told from the point of view of the people who were powerless: the victims of the genocides.

Since the end of the Korean conflict in 1953, the major occupation of the Canadian military has not been combat duties but rather peacekeeping operations. Has the benevolent image of the Armed Forces suffered in the eyes of the Canadian public since the obvious, catastrophic failures of the Canadian-led missions in Rwanda and Bosnia? Do you think Canadians will have to re-examine the mandate of our military?

I hope that a re-evaluation of the role of our military and its role is the biggest issue this book will raise. Canada has lost 107 peacekeepers over various missions yet we have never been specifically targeted as the Americans were in Somalia and the Belgians were in Rwanda. We have never had to go through the emotional crisis of watching our peacekeepers killed in a horrible way. If we did go through this, I’m not sure how long our love affair with peacekeeping would last, particularly if we, as a nation, witnessed on television one of our dead soldiers being dragged behind a truck as the Americans did in Somalia. We have to re-evaluate this whole fiction we that we should commit troops just to keep warring sides apart. In Bosnia and Rwanda, the fighting was intended to kill as many civilians as possible. You can’t “keep the peace,” when there is no peace to keep. The first thing to come to terms with is to admit that innocent civilians are being slaughtered and in the case of Rwanda and especially Bosnia, U.N. officials at all levels refused to acknowledge this. In 1999, the U.N. admitted, for the first time, that the difficulty in Rwanda and Bosnia was that it failed to recognize that there were victims and perpetrators. In the past, the U.N. has looked at conflicts like these with an air of neutrality, of moral equivalency — which is the most immoral thing I have ever encountered. The world community — the U.N. — must recognize that innocent people are being killed by vicious tyrants and stand up to them. NATO — not the U.N. — did this in 1999 in Kosovo. People have said that aspects of the NATO operation in Kosovo were badly handled, and I would agree with them. People have also said that we shouldn’t have been there and I would disagree with them strenuously. NATO decided it could not allow Milosevic to do this any more and took action.

NATO intervened in Kosovo and risked airmen’s lives (a much easier sell to the general public than committing ground troops) in order to save the lives of white Europeans. Do you think racism is a factor in whether or not the decision is made to commit western troops to a Third World conflict?

I definitely think there is racism involved, but most importantly it is a media issue. Decisions on how and where to intervene are based in large part on what is being beamed into the living rooms of the general public. With the situation in Kosovo, NATO action was precipitated by the horrific TV images we received daily, but Africa simply does not get the same volume of press attention needed to get the west to act.

Relatively speaking, who had a more difficult job, Robert Jackson, chief Allied prosecutor at the Nuremberg trial or Louise Arbour, chief prosecutor for war crimes in the Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia?

I think Arbour had a tougher time because she did not have the same kind of political will behind her to prosecute that Jackson had at Nuremburg. Jackson had the force of the Allies behind him — most of whom wanted to see the German leaders hang. There was also a massive paper trail in the wake of World War Two that made the Allied prosecution easier. Arbour had very little paper documentation but she did have a large number of witnesses who could testify. The problem is that many of the witnesses are destroyed on the stand by vicious, high priced — and frequently American — defence attorneys. In the former Yugoslavia, corruption is very common among accused war criminals as well as the lawyers hired to defend them, so the whole process is very difficult. In Rwanda Arbour had an even tougher time with corruption than in the former Yugoslavia, owing to the complete lack of infrastructure to conduct investigations and trials. Yes, Arbour definitely had a tougher time than Jackson.

What aspect of your book will generate the most controversy?

I think the section on Lewis MacKenzie will receive a lot of attention because he is considered a hero to many Canadians. He is revered as a symbol of how we want to be perceived internationally. I also question the role he plays in our collective imagination. In Sarajevo many of the citizens referred to peacekeepers — whom they loathed — as “MacKenzies.” Almost all of the material in the section about MacKenzie came directly from him. He is an extremely charismatic and charming man. He is funny and fearless; people from all over the world were interviewing MacKenzie and were interested in what a Canadian had to say and we felt proud of that. He was also telling people what they wanted to hear, which was, not to intervene because these were crazy ethnic tribes killing one another and they were not worthy of our help. When we were hearing reports of 13-year-old girls being gang-raped, of massacres and of men being held in cages wallowing in their own excrement, and these reports turned out to be true, we didn’t know how to act or respond and we felt impotent as a result. So if someone like MacKenzie comes along and tells you the stories are lies, we feel better about it. The fact remains that an extremely large Bosnian Serb army descended on Bosnian Muslims and blasted them. MacKenzie had succeeded in convincing people that the war in Bosnia was a fair fight — which it most certainly was not — and that we should stay out of it. This moral equivalency was wrong and immoral.

What needs to be done in the future to prevent another Rwandan or Bosnian type of disaster?

Peacekeeping as we know it does not work in these types of situations. There was a recent report from the United Nations proposing that it implement Dallaire’s rapid reaction force to respond to future crises, but it would still remain under the auspices of the Security Council. If the Security Council did not want that force to be deployed it would not go in to the conflict zone. I believe this to be the route to go. I think our armed forces have to be increased. We spend far too little on our military, and Canadians have to change the way we look at peace and conflict. We led the way in objecting to air strikes in Kosovo on the grounds that we did not want to appear as though we were submitting to American and European pressure to get involved. Our initial response — which I believe wrong — was a knee-jerk reaction that did not look at the issue at hand: the plight of the refugees being expelled from Kosovo. I admire Dallaire because he felt he was fighting tyranny; and for Arbour to indict Milosevic while he is still the leader of a country is revolutionary — the idea that there is no such thing as sovereignty to protect tyrants is a huge step in the right direction.

Have western governments accepted this idea that sovereignty offers no protection against war crimes — particularly if, hypothetically, NATO was committing war crimes in their bombing campaign against Serbia?

I’m not sure they have accepted this idea, but I would bet that Wesley Clark thought about how he was going to conduct his bombing campaign after Arbour told him, “I’m watching.” We certainly know that Milosevic changed his ethnic cleansing policies in Kosovo because he saw what Arbour did in Bosnia. If a sovereign leader thinks there is a possibility that they might be prosecuted for war crimes, he might think twice about committing these acts. It is what the rule of law is all about. Leaders don’t know what the war crime tribunal’s reach will be. It may never reach the corridors of power in Washington — but it is progress.

Interview reprinted with permission. Copyright Random House Canada.

The Lion, The Fox & The Eagle: The extraordinary story of generals and justice in Rwanda and  Yugoslavia, By: Carol Off

Institute for the Research of Genocide Canada